If you look quickly at a road map, you’ll see no direct roads west from Kars to Narman. The reason is, of course, the mountains — Allahuekber Mountains and the eponymous national park. Check more carefully, however, and it’s possible to string together village roads and unpaved mountain tracks. Sounds like a nice bicycle touring route, doesn’t it?
As a warmup, we started with about a day and a half of flat riding on the Kars Ovası (Kars Plains). The elevation (about 1900m) means that the temperature was pleasant even though it was the beginning of August.
It took Ferda and me 26 hours to get (by bus) from Antalya to Kars. Emek and Görkem drove from Muğla, and Hacer took the bus from Mersin. We were the last of our group of five to arrive. I had been to Kars (the province (il)) twicebefore, but I had never been to the city of Kars. I was quite looking forward to it. For good reason, it turns out.
Akşehir, Sultandağı, Çay — we spent a couple days skirting the north edge of the Sultan Dağları (mountains) on tractor roads. These cities are connected with a busy, fast road, the major highway connecting Konya and Afyonkarahisar. We had to cross it a few times, but except for short stretches before and after Çay, we managed to avoid riding on it.
Ferda and Yasemin came by bus to Yalvaç to join Ahmet and me. The four of us pedaled together for a few days. They were hungry when they arrived, and Ahmet and I had just finished a good lunch at Ahmet Usta Pideci so we got some takeaway from the same place and delivered it to the bus station for the new riders.
Continuing where we left off at Kuzukulağı Yaylası, Ahmet and I headed down to the Köprü Çayı (again). With the villages of Yanık, Fındık, Samanlık, İbişler, Pınargözü, and Karacahisar one after another in the pretty river valley, we were optimistic we’d find a breakfast place.